Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cha-Ch’ing Time on 3ABN

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

December, 2011
Vol. 7, No. 12

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles that I believe to be of special interest. This includes editorials, special supplements, and NAD features not available online.

Check out the left-hand column of the World’s home page. Ted Wilson’s face and refrain, “Revival and Reformation” are the banner headline. These have become ubiquitous reminders that big brother is watching over his flock, and his essays unfailingly remind us who we are.

“It is gratifying to know that there are many, many faithful church members who are longing to see Jesus come, believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God’s remnant church, wish to be very much a part of the world family of Seventh-day Adventists, accept the Bible as it reads, cherish the Spirit of Prophecy, and are participating in the worldwide mission of the Advent movement proclaiming the three angels’ messages.”

On the other hand, PLACE OF PRAYER is a reminder that Adventists, worldwide, are individual human beings who may or may not understand or even believe Ted’s “defining doctrines”, but know that they belong to a worldwide Christian family that cares about them. Very cool!

Angel Manuel Rodríguez’ cautionary remarks in THE LORD IS WONDERFUL earns kudos for his discussion of the elephant in the room when it comes to immigrant and Third World converts. Here is his response to the following questions posed by Gerald Klingbeil:

Are there theological issues arising out of the tremendous church growth we are seeing?
“What I think is probably one of the most important issues has to do with new converts. You see, the growth is so rapid that it’s very difficult even to keep up with it. Because of the speed, we need to really think for a moment about the dangers. And the danger I’m going to mention is a real one. It’s the danger of baptizing individuals coming from a different Christian tradition, or a non-Christian background, who are not well informed about the biblical message. They receive a brief introduction to the Adventist message, and they’re baptized. There is little follow-up. These people are Adventists—based on the little they’ve come to understand. They retain some of the ideas they brought in with them. There is almost an element of syncretism, because they’ve never understood Adventism well. Doctrinal and theological diversity is finding a place within the local congregation.

“Not long ago we blamed the theologians. They were the ones creating theological and doctrinal polarization. There is truth in that, I cannot deny that. But this is a new phenomenon because often the new converts do not really understand what Adventism is about.”

So, you are concerned about biblical discipleship?
“That’s correct. It’s not simply ‘Oh, yes, I’m emotional; I want to be baptized.’ No, this is about that which is important, teaching the person to understand the message and to be able to go and share the message with others.

ADVENTISTS AND ALCOHOL by Peter N. Landless is a MUST READ. He supports the following 6 reasons not to drink with persuasive scientific evidence.
  1. Alcohol is a toxin and damages the human body.
  2. Alcohol is potentially addictive.
  3. Alcohol is a proven carcinogen—
it causes various cancers.
  4. There is no safe level of alcohol intake to avoid its many serious side effects and consequences.
  5. Any purported benefit to heart health (coronary artery disease, specifically) is neutralized and eclipsed by the dangerous and proven harms associated with 
alcohol use.
  6. The global consequences of alcohol use are growing, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has the opportunity and responsibility to educate, foster, promote resilience, and play a leading role in advocacy against alcohol use.
In OF SERPENTS AND SERAPHIM Angel Manuel Rodríguez reverts to his usual confusing silliness as he attempts to answer the burning question: “What were seraphim?”

They are “a symbol of evil that could stand for demonic powers operating within history. This may suggest that Lucifer was supported by seraphim.

“On the positive side, think about the reverence and humility displayed by seraphim, who, glorious in appearance, choose to cover their bodies in order to proclaim that only the One sitting on the throne deserves all glory.”

No Comfort

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why is the Biblical Flood a continuing source of amusement?

From the comic Bizarro by Dan Piraro.
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

November 24, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 33

Most of what interested me in this issue was in the INBOX and WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES. However, GOOD STEWARDS OF GOOD PLANET EARTH by Joseph Sesay is a MUST READ, and TOO SWEET FOR YOU? by Docs Handsides and Landless is an excellent discussion of sugar and its place in a healthful diet. Andrew McChesney is always a fun read, and FRIENDSHIP AND GOD is a thoughtful piece by Kimberly Luste Maran that’s worth prayerful reflection. In addition I have a comment on Lael Caesar’s writing and theology in GIVER GOD.

Thumbs up for Chris Patterson comment: “While we're often encouraged to give to this ministry or that, perhaps we could have the greatest impact by rolling up our sleeves, getting to know our neighbors, and being involved in some project that benefits us all.”

Another thumbs up for Arlene Jessop: “I read the article “No Fear” with a feeling of déjà vu. Like the author, I grew up in an Adventist home, and I also was haunted by images of sinister forces determined to persecute God's people (Adventists) for worshiping on Sabbath rather than on Sunday. I now regret all those years spent worrying about the future, and looking with suspicion at the Christians of other denominations as potential persecutors.

Thumbs down for the conspiracy promoter Dennis Priebe: “One more point of information should be on the table–a question that was not asked during the interview. For the courses taught by the [seminary] teachers interviewed, what are the non-Adventist books required or recommended? Without straightforward answers to this question, doubts and questions will continue to feed rumor mills.”

Thumbs down for fear brokers Lorna Wagner and Sandra Hayesenflug: “ If we don't recognize these deceptions for what they are, we will be swept into the camp of the enemy. None of us is safe unless we recognize our own fallibility and heed the message is given to our people to secure us from Satan's cleverly disguised deceptions.” (LW) “Our church has to wake up before it's too late.” (SH)

‘Women in Leadership’ Motion Voted in both the Trans-European and North American Divisions. Both unions have decided it is time to “promote women as pastors and leaders”.

According to Bertil Wiklander, TED president, "What works best for the TED at this time is to let all know where we stand and what we want regarding women in leadership, while doing all we can to promote women as pastors and leaders in our church within the working policy. We will continue to work with our unions to see how we can support and enable the many women who the Holy Spirit has clearly called to leadership.”

Arnold Trujillo, Vice President of the Pacific Union Conference, spoke for NAD. “We were not designed to be a monolithic organization, but one were dynamic tension is allowed to exist. We need freedom to be different, without compromising our mission. We sing in harmony, not in unison.”

Guam and Micronesia are now part of the North American Division.

Loma Linda Medical School accepted 11 medical students following the closure of their former school in Puerto Rico.

GOOD STEWARDS OF GOOD PLANET EARTH by Joseph Sesay is a MUST READ. It’s loaded with facts and figures that made me weep.

“Even in the midst of recent global economic challenges, 2010 world gross domestic product (GDP) was more than US$63 trillion.2 GDP is a measure of economic output within a year. And $63 trillion is enough to give each of the 6.9 billion people on earth $9,000 worth of food, shelter, health care, clean water, and everything that makes life relatively comfortable.3 Not an overwhelming amount, you may think, given that the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold for 2010 was more than $11,000.4 However, that $9,000 level of living remains beyond the dreams of billions.

“So while we ask where God is in the midst of earth’s suffering, maybe we should be asking where are the good stewards who will connect humanity to the resources God has provided. For ever since Adam and Eve were created, there has been enough, and still is, for everyone to enjoy good living.”

CHOSEN TO BE LOVED is a reminder that November is adoption awareness month. “God gave explicit commands about our duties and responsibilities to the disenfranchised, including orphans: ‘Bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied’ (Deut. 14:28, 29).”

Sugar isn’t necessarily the enemy, according to Docs Handysides and Landless. It doesn’t have to be TOO SWEET FOR YOU.

Andrew McChesney found THE PERFECT VIDEO PROJECTOR for a friend in need under circumstances that another friend called, “almost too perfect”.

According to Kimberly Luste Maran, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate FRIENDSHIP AND GOD. It’s also a time to remember the following deaths: E. Jeane De Haven, George Virley Fuller, Robert C. Goransson, and J. Martin Peterson.

I find it hard to equate “Associate Editor” with the written work of Lael Caesar. (I suspect that English may be his second language.) In GIVER GOD his theology is as tortured as his prose.

“The answer is as straightforward as it is unfathomable: God made Jesus ‘who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Cor. 5:21). Simply, and inexplicably told, Jesus did not merely take victims’ places. He incarnated their toxic venom. Believing the cross, we understand that when God's wrath destroyed Jesus on the cross, he destroyed sin, for Jesus became the curse and by God's destruction obliterated the curse, to give us the blessing (Gal. 3:13, 14)”

Nightmare Scenario

Modified from the comic Bizarro by Dan Piraro.
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good Question!

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

November 17, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 32

This review has something for everyone:

A letter by Lyle Bennett regarding a comment in the July 14 issue that criticized the music of “kids today”. “I don’t feel that this clever put-down…has any place in the Review. I’m personally glad that my grand-kids even bother to go to church and sing anything at all.”

A promise that a membership audit is in the offing, an “action” agenda for reviewing “ordination’s biblical origins—“If voted, material is to be placed on the 2015 General Conference session agenda."

A document is “undergoing a final revision” that will “change the culture and the way we (the Adventist Church) do business…We cannot assume that those who are spiritual are also ethical and moral”. (This reading seems to define “spiritual” in a whole new way!)

A technological breakthrough that “brings Adventist Scholarship to your hand”.

An essay from Cliff Goldstein on the term, “theodicy”, that will take a MILLENNIUM to comprehend. (Cliff thoughtfully provides Cliffs Notes.)

A definition of THE ONLY GROUP JESUS DIDN’T HAVE TIME FOR, according to Andy Nash. “People who want to be religious thought leaders apart from the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Definitions not provided. I guess it’s assumed you know who you are.)

The rest of the issue is pretty standard stuff, with the exception of a thoughtful attempt by Wilona Karimabadi to answer the question, “Are the cultural/language-based churches of their parents filling the spiritual needs of second-generation immigrants? THEIR CHURCH, OR MY CHURCH concludes:

“There is no right or wrong direction for everyone, and as many aspects of religious life, this one is a matter of personal preference.”

"No worries! I have decided that that only ordained men can be conference and division presidents."

Comic modified from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Learning the Difference

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

November 10, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 31

There is one article that upsets me, another deserves an inspirational “thumbs up”, and another suggests a shortsighted and uneconomic solution to an important problem. The rest of the issue is standard fare.

CHURCH TRENDS by Monte Sahlin must be regarded as a dead canary in the mine of leadership in the North American Division.

“It's really a simple question. It was asked of pastors and lay leaders in a random sample of more than 11,000 congregations of all faiths across America last year: ‘would you agree? Our congregation is spiritually vital and alive.’

“The leaders are responded to the survey could pick one of 5 answers from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree.’ Overall, just 28% gave the most positive response. And among Seventh-day Adventist churches it was only 16%.

“Adventist data also show fewer local (Adventist) churches involved in all areas of community ministry, except public evangelism.”

AN ANGEL’S GIFT by Dixil Rodriguez is a heartwarming story of a very sick little girl and her very real angel.

INCLUSIVE WORSHIP AND LEARNING: EMBRACING SPECIAL-NEEDS CHILDREN IN OUR CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS by Addison Hudgins is an important reminder that children with special needs should feel comfortable attending a Seventh-day Adventist church. Hudgins goes on to suggest that Adventist schools should become places where the educational needs of these children should be met.

This idea, though well intentioned, is impractical and uneconomic. These specialized programs can only be adequately funded by public education. It would make far more sense for Adventist churches and schools to publicly support the special education programs in their communities.


Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)